Saturday, October 25th, 2014

A roundup of ratings on eve of National Governors Association meeting

Gov. Scott Walker will welcome the National Governors Association convention in Milwaukee this weekend. In this Associated Press photo from January 2013, Walker visited a factory in Hartford, Wis.
Gov. Scott Walker will welcome the National Governors Association convention in Milwaukee this weekend. In this Associated Press photo from January 2013, Walker visited a factory in Hartford, Wis.

Chief executives of the states will discuss a variety of issues at the National Governors Association convention, which is set for Aug. 2 to 4, 2013, in Milwaukee.

We welcome them to Wisconsin with a roundup of recent gubernatorial Truth-O-Meter items produced by PolitiFact Wisconsin, as well as by our PolitiFact siblings in nine other states and at PolitiFact National.

A few of the governors -- Republicans Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Perry of Texas and Chris Christie of New Jersey -- are being mentioned as potential presidential candidates in 2016.

So let’s see how some of the chief execs have done on the meter lately. We’ll go alphabetically, by state.

Florida

Republican Rick Scott’s latest rating from PolitiFact Florida was Pants on Fire, in June 2013. He said Florida offered no special incentives to Deutsche Bank, which announced it was adding 300 jobs in Florida. Our colleagues found records showing the company would receive up to $2.08 million in state and local incentives if it hits its job targets.

Earlier that month, Scott earned a Half True for saying Florida had cut taxes 24 times under his watch. Backing up that specific claim required overlooking all sorts of caveats, including counting the same effort multiple times.

Also recently, Scott got a Mostly True for saying the state budget set a record for the fewest number of state workers per capita in this century, and a Mostly False for claiming he was almost halfway to meeting his goal of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years.

New Jersey

Christie, rumored as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, went bold in June 2013 by saying: "Not one tax has been raised since I've been governor." That earned him a Half True from PolitiFact New Jersey. Major taxes in New Jersey have not increased, but he cuts he made to tax-relief programs resulted in tax increases for some residents.

In May 2013, our colleagues rated as Mostly True Christie’s claim that spending in his 2014 budget was lower than that of the 2008 budget of his Democratic predecessor. His statement was accurate, but needed clarification because he had also tied the 2008 budget to a Democratic state senator, even though she didn’t chair the Senate’s budget committee.

New Hampshire

Democrat Maggie Hassan said in her January 2013 inaugural address that New Hampshire had the fourth-highest in-state college tuition in the country. PolitiFact New Hampshire rated the claim True, finding the University of New Hampshire’s rate trailed only that of Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Vermont.

Our colleagues rated as Half True Hassan’s claim last November that New Hampshire had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country during her time in the state Senate. She was mostly right on the statistics, but overstated the role of taxes that she cited for keeping the rate down.

Ohio

In pitching several tax change ideas for his state, Republican John Kasich said in March 2013 that Texas and Oklahoma have "sky high" taxes on oil and gas, but that Texas has no income tax and Oklahoma was lowering its income taxes. PolitiFact Ohio rated the claim True. Kasich was correct on the income tax part of his claim and that the oil and gas taxes in those states are much higher than Ohio’s.  

The same month, Kasich said that under his transportation plan, tolls on the Ohio Turnpike would be the lowest in the road’s history. But Kasich actually was proposing to raise tolls, just not as fast, earning his claim a Pants on Fire.

Oregon

Democrat John Kitzhaber said in his State of the State address in January 2013 that the cost of public schools would increase by more than $1,000 per student over two years, and that $500 of it was due to increases in the cost of the state’s public employee retirement system. PolitiFact Oregon did the math and rated the claim True.

The previous month, Kitzhaber said a tax measure did not amount to a tax break for Nike. Our colleagues rated that Mostly True, saying the bill does not reduce Nike’s tax burden, but it was used to ensure the continuance of a sizable tax giveaway for Nike.

Texas

Perry, a presidential candidate in 2012, said a growing number of extremely premature babies survive into healthy childhood. PolitiFact Texas in July 2013 rated the statement Mostly True, finding that more extreme preemies -- some born during the period when abortion is permitted -- make it home from the hospital and live into early childhood, but that evidence is lacking to prove the children's long-term health.

In contrast, our Texas colleagues gave Perry a Pants on Fire earlier that month for saying: "Abortion is the second-most conducted surgical procedure in this country." Aside from questions about whether abortion is surgery, the procedure was not found to be more common than a number of other common surgeries, such as caesarean-section births and wisdom teeth extractions.

Virginia

In February 2013, Republican Bob McDonnell earned a Mostly False from PolitiFact Virginia for saying education in the United States is "slipping" behind other nations. Our colleagues found the U.S. has never ranked near the top in education test scores and, with a possible exception for math, has not lost ground to other countries.

McDonnell earned a True in January 2013 for saying his transportation plan would make Virginia the first state to eliminate its gas tax.

Wisconsin

Not surprisingly, Walker has been tested more than anyone on PolitiFact Wisconsin’s Truth-O-Meter. His last three ratings spanned the middle of the meter.

In July 2013, we rated Mostly True his claim that America’s Dairyland, because of its cheese makers, had to import 10 percent of its milk. The best estimates were on his side.

The previous month, Walker said his success as governor was shown in a two-point drop in the state unemployment from the time he decided to run for governor. That was rated Mostly False, given that it failed to account for actions taken by his predecessor.

Also in June 2013, Walker said that under his watch, Wisconsin had gone from a ranking of 43rd to 17th as the state for doing business. That earned a Half True, given the results were more mixed than Walker’s cherry picking of studies would suggest.